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Groups to President Obama: Stop Ignoring the Torture Report

On January 28, OpenTheGovernment.org and 8 other groups wrote to President Obama, asking his administration to stop ignoring the nearly 7000-page torture report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and reject Senator Richard Burr’s unprecedented request for the report’s return. The letter states in part:

SSCI Chairman to CIA: We'll Hide Your Documents if You Hide Ours

Shortly after he became chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in January, Senator Richard Burr told reporters in his home state that he had no intention of trying to rewrite the committee’s 6700-page, $40 million torture report. Burr said that despite his disagreements with the report, he wanted to “look forward and do oversight in real time.”

Hope for FOIA Reform in the 114th Congress - January 20, 2015 Newsletter

 
– Brief Updates on Coalition Partners & Others (more)
– Join OpenTheGovernment.org for a Sunshine Week Town Hall (more)
– Hope for FOIA Reform in the 114th Congress (more)

Overclassification: The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem

The Inspector General for the Office of the Direct of National Intelligence (DNI) has released its annual report on over-classification.

Civil Society Groups Issue One-Year Progress Report on 2014-2015 US National Action Plan

According to the second civil society progress report on the implementation of the United States' Second National Action Plan, the US government remains on-course to meet the majority of its commitments one year into the two-year implementation period.

The Need for Secrecy Reform to Prevent CIA Abuses

The Guardian has published an op-ed by OpenTheGovernment.org's national security fellow, Katherine Hawkins, on the need to reform the classification system to prevent abuses like those documented in the Senate torture report.  An excerpt is below, and the full text is available on the Guardian's website.

To Fix House Intelligence Oversight, Change the Rules

OpenTheGovernment.org joined a diverse group of 50 organizations, whistleblowers, and former Congressional staffers calling on Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi to support changes to the House of Representatives’ rules, to allow effective oversight on national security matters.

Commitment Analysis: Big Data Openness and Accountability in the Second National Action Plan

The following analysis is from Khaliah Barnes, Director of the Student Privacy Project and Administrative Law Counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

The Obama Administration’s Second Open Government National Action Plan aims to “use big data to support greater openness and accountability.” The Administration has committed to:

  • Enhance sharing of best practices on data privacy for state and local law enforcement;
  • Ensure privacy protection for big data analyses in health; and
  • Expand technical expertise in government to stop discrimination.

UPDATED: Failure of Speaker Boehner to Pass FOIA Reform

Statement of Patrice McDermott, Executive Director of OpenTheGovernment.org:

We are particularly concerned that Speaker Boehner has now said that he has “no knowledge of the plan” to pass the bipartisan, bicameral FOIA reform bill. If accountability and making the federal government answer to the public is really a priority for the Republican Caucus, passing this bill should be a priority. The House passed the House companion bill 410 – 0. The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent after the open government community waged an all-out war against a last second attempt by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other independent agencies that are supposed to be on the public’s side to stop the bill. It’s up to Speaker Boehner to put this bill to a vote and create the levels of open government the public needs. We call on Speaker Boehner to work with Minority Leader Pelosi to pass S.2520 by unanimous consent.

Now or (Almost) Never for FOIA Reform

The House has an opportunity to pass a meaningful Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reform bill today that will force federal agencies to be more accountable to the public. While we understand that the bill, S. 2520, is jostling for position on the House schedule with many other pieces of legislation, we urge Congressional leadership to not miss this window of opportunity.

The Classified Section

Check out our new blog, The Classified Section, for analysis of national security secrecy.

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